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Helene, Gordon, Lane, Florence, and a fire tornado

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:50 PM GMT on September 14, 2006

It's a typically active mid-September day in the Atlantic, with the first major hurricane of the year, Gordon, spinning out to sea, and a new tropical storm to watch, Helene. Neither of these storms are likely to affect land, and the long range 2-week GFS model forecast offers no hint of any future threats coming in the Atlantic. With hurricane season now more than half over, the seemingly radical notion that the worst storm of the season will end up being Ernesto is not so far-fetched. Still, there is another full month of peak hurricane season to go, and we still need to keep an eye on Helene, which could cause trouble.

Florence
The remains of Hurricane Florence gave Newfoundland a pounding yesterday, bringing hurricane force winds and 30-foot seas to the coast. One house was reported destroyed on an island off the coast, and there were scattered reports of power outages and flooding. The remains of Florence will continue across the Atlantic, and likely bring heavy rain and 40 mph wind gusts to Ireland on Sunday.

Gordon headed out to sea
Hurricane Gordon intensified into the first major hurricane of the season last night, but appears to be starting a slow decline in strength. Strong upper-level winds from the west are creating about 15 knots of wind shear over the storm, and helping stretch it into an east-west oriented oval shape. Wind shear over Gordon is expected to increase and the waters underneath it cool over the next few days. Gordon is headed northward out to sea, and is not a threat to land.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Gordon, updated every half hour.

Helene
Tropical Depression Eight got its act together enough last night to barely qualify as the eighth named storm of the season, Helene. Helene is very disorganized and has a large sloppy circulation center. A QuikSCAT satellite pass from this morning shows this broad center nicely, and reveals only a few patches of winds over 40 mph. As we saw with Florence, it can take many days for a weak tropical storm with a large circulation center to organize into a hurricane. Still, the waters under Helene are a warm 27-28C, the shear is a low 5-10 knots, and these favorable conditions for intensification are expected to persist for several days. Helene should be able to intensify into a hurricane by 3-4 days from now, and possibly into a major hurricane thereafter. Some dry air to its north and west may interfere with this intensification.

The computer track models have a wide spread in the track for Helene, but all of them take the storm north of the Lesser Antilles. While a long-range threat to Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast is still a possibility, the odds of this happening are low. History shows that the large majority of tropical storms that form in this part of the Atlantic end up recurving harmlessly out to sea. With the active jet stream pattern we've seen since early June expected to continue for at least the next two weeks, I expect that Helene will end up recurving out to sea east of Bermuda.

More trouble for Mexico
Tropical Storm Lane formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico yesterday, and this storm has the potential to be the most trouble of any storm discussed so far. Lane is expected to track parallel to the coast and threaten Baja, similar to what Hurricane John did earlier this month. Lane is over warm waters and under light shear, and and has the potential to become a hurricane by Friday. Lane probably does not have time to intensify into a major hurricane, but a Category 2 hurricane would not be a surprise.

The entire coast of Mexico affected by John is also at risk from Lane. The storm could move ashore on the mainland Mexico coast south of Puerto Vallarta, like the GFDL model is forecasting. The GFDL had the best performance of any of the computer models for John, so residents along the mainland Mexican coast should prepare for a possible direct hit by a Category 1 hurricane on Friday.

Moisture from Lane could potentially reach southern California and Arizona by Wednesday and cause flooding concerns there.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic
Thunderstorm activity is increasing today along a cold front stretching from Cape Hatteras, NC, to the waters east of Florida. This area will have to be watched the next two days for development. Shower activity associated with a tropical wave passing through Puerto Rico and the surrounding region have diminished, and development is unlikely here.

Fire tornado
Finally, I had to link this photo of a fire tornado taken by wunderphotographer Photo5150. Some fires are able to create such a strong updraft with their extreme heat that the air rushing in at the surface to replace the air lifted creates a fire tornado. This is definitely the most awesome photo of a fire tornado I've ever seen!

Jeff Masters
Fire Tornado
Fire Tornado
I was covering the fire action at the Day fire in Castaic CA, and had this fire tonado form from the heat and wind from the fire right in front of me!...Fire is now 27,500 acres+ and now has been burning for 10 days. Sept 13,2006 Photo by Gene Blevins/LA Daily news

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Oh in case someone actually wanted to know I said , you are scatterbrained and Helene is large and young, I think that's what I said anyway. LOL
Terry
I didn't say anyone in particular, just felt like injecting another language.
1503. IKE
I don't know Spanish, so whatever ya'll are saying goes beond me.

Probably nothing in the SW Caribbean..around 13N, 78W..with a spin..probably goes west into Central America. Something to keep an eye on though.
1504. nash28
No worries Gulf. You know the NHC is not going with the west solution yet. They are still in love with the GFDL, which has sort of been the right outlier this time.

Got a meeting. back in a bit.
1505. hazmat
Has anyone run the animation on the latest NOGAPS? I have. Further W than the others, but still shows the break in the ridge & GASP...even though it's alittle later than the other models, still recurves her around 60W. I'd recommend checking them out...SLP...they all turn her between 50-60W.

The rough ride for the islands & nail bitter for the CONUS I mentioned last night.
Well y'all...according to momanem, 'at thar hurrycane helleeen aint gonna hit nowar's cept maybe one o 'em lil islands out thar.

There, now it was said in southern.
1508. Zaphod
For once I'm posting on the weather and find myself in the middle of a multi-lingual insult exchange?

GS said: I distinctly remember one of the Key Tennents of Zaphod-ism was .... something about NO WEST!

You are indeed an attentive disciple! Come sit at the big table!

My sleepy typing must not have captured the tone of my thoughts, which intended to convey that it's ALREADY at 15N and while it has a Westward component (and that's HISTORICAL and IMMEDIATE, which does not conflict with the westcasting commandment) it has not moved W far enough to be a significant worry.

Until the models themselves become blasphemous any member of the faith who fervently believes in westward movements must provide detailed supporting arguments to avoid heresy!.
Zap
Awfully early in the mornin' to start the feudin already...but it IS Frideee. Just keep your weapons at your sides!
1510. ricderr
Has anyone run the animation on the latest NOGAPS? I have. Further W than the others, but still shows the break in the ridge & GASP
it's more fun not to run them..and then you can holler....it's coming..it's coming
1511. Patrap
...that west Pact Typhoon going to give bad day for someones coast..
snotly
do you know the guys in here? someone is going to decode that.
miamifisher usted cayace..maricon imbelece ... yea he is talking about u guys
1514. Patrap
..the Fire Tornadoes going to leave us soon..Will the Pharoh at the NHC let us go>..into the SAL..into the promised Land of West Bound Waves/..
good morning all of you WUBA people..it's friday..time for the friday dance! let's all get up and do a little spinnin' and turnin' like Helene to get our blood circulating!!
1519. Melagoo
outlook
1520. Patrap
..nice map..showing the overall
Today we've secretly replaced Scotty's Dilythium Crystals with FOLGERS CRYSTALS. Let's see if anyone notices.
Ok, what did I miss....and what did MiamiFisher say about me.....I did catch idiot and imbecile...was that it?
1523. Patrap
..if the Atlantic low pressure off the Carolinas can deepen..then the ave is north..via the Noreaster route..
Ooooooo Melagoo, where did you get that groovy map?
1525. Patrap
..Florence still has the best wind field too...
1526. pcshell
now do they usually follow in between the little path there for helene and if so wouldn't that take it to the n.e. i am trying to understand what stears these systems
New wave off of Africa. Is that a separate wave behind Helene or is that a part of her?

Tropical wave near Purto Rico.

Miami- are you STILL on something today?
1529. Patrap
..the Bermuda High is the 1024 mb High steering Helene now..and it should track pretty much in line with ol Gordon..around it..
1531. Patrap
..the High over the Great Lakes is the big buffer now..for Gordon too..But theres a new Front..just coming into the West coast .and with a big dip down into California..is the front that will turn helene out to sea ..next week..Tues..
Mel, could we have a link to the site where you got that map? Please.......
Navy site now has Helene at 50kt winds. Also, Patrap, you're wrong. The ridge is north of Helene and should continue to be north quite a bit westward, thus allowing a more westward track. Also, the upper-level steering flow over North America and the North Atlantic is currently very fast, so any troughs or lows would not be moving slow enough to have any significant effect on pulling Helene northward.
1535. ricderr
the Bermuda High is the 1024 mb High steering Helene now..and it should track pretty much in line with ol Gordon..around it..
ahhh..pat pat pat......you can use science..highs and ridges...but do you truly know the soul of helene?...that's where the true knowledge of her movements will be derived.....look deep at her form....let your mind clear your body...enter hers...and you'll find true direction...another forecast brought to you by ....
sprinklebottom
groundman - "Ta soeur est laide." is "Your sister is ugly."
What a Friday!! We get to maybe wishcast our westcasting and watch blobs we weren't supposed to watch in the Carr. Cool.
BTW I wasn't feuding or bickering. just showing off my EXTREMELY limited command of ancient french.
Good Morning to everyone. I asked that question about the wave earlier obsessed, I'll go back and see if I got an answer but I don't believe I did. Then it's nap time, the benefits of having a raging infection. LOL
NOT, it's actually better, I might feel like living.
Terry
Taco... burrito... enchillada supreme.
1540. Patrap
.sees a 1024 Bermuda Ridge steering Helene..and I didnt expect to see it south of the itzc..LOL
1541. Patrap
..But Florence is still putting a Crikey Crink in that 1024 Ridge to its south..and showing the punch a good big Cyclonic flow can have ..on a Big Azz ridge..and it yaws east....
groundman - sorry you are not feeling well...hope you get better.

and I didnt expect to see it south of the itzc..LOL

Should be a safe forecast Pat!
Why is the Bermuda High hundreds of miles away from Bermuda?
1545. ricderr
flkeys...and you have to drive how many miles into key west to get that?...LOL...you know life is bad when you drive 35 minutes to get a fake mexican taco....
Posted By: FLKEYSRADIO at 8:21 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Today we've secretly replaced Scotty's Dilythium Crystals with FOLGERS CRYSTALS. Let's see if anyone notices.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That was great.....showing your age though....hmmmm mine too.
navy site this update HELENE to 50kts or 60mph i think? and a 1000mbs
1549. Patrap
..Kirk..always the ladys man..doing the love thing.,the Lovermeister..The Kirk wood...to boldly go where no man has gone before...
Posted By: kylejourdan2006 at 1:32 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.
groundman - "Ta soeur est laide." is "Your sister is ugly."


Thanks Kyle, My command of insulting French needs improvement?? eh
Cest la Vie!
BTW I have no sisters, brother is large construction foreman, he would qualify for ugly sister. LOL
Actually insulting German is more my line but not exactly PG.
Terry
FLYKESRADIO verrrrrrrrrry funneeee es Frito Bandito
Sadly ric... Taco Bell is in Key West, Marathon, (2 min from my home) and Key Largo... but I try to stay away from food served out of a caulking gun.
1552. Patrap
..had droid from tattooine that understood Binary code..,b-4 he was a Protacol droid...
im not to good at this but the batch of thunderstorms east of hellen looks to be intencifieing and looks to have rottion can any i confirm this coz iim not sure
1556. Patrap
..LMAO @ caulking gun..drive thru!
Posted By: ihave27windows at 9:36 AM EDT on September 15, 2006.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That was great.....showing your age though....hmmmm mine too.


Sadly, my age is all I can show in here... haven't the foggiest knowledge on weather, but trying to learn a bit here.
Thank you StormW....Can't learn if you don't ask.
Good morning GulfScotsman the navy site this update the winds to 50kt or 60mph and a 1000mb
1561. Patrap
..wishes the tornado of Doom & fire would leave soon..it creeps me out for some reason..like a f-4 on the top post
gulfscot what do you think are the posiblilities that helene does the same thing gordon did?
1565. Patrap
..looks like my Fema rep..
1567. Patrap
..I see he has a no west-laser zapper thingee from DoD...kewl!
im not to good at this but the batch of thunderstorms east of hellen looks to be intencifing and looks to have rotation can any i confirm this coz iim not sure
re: "ihave27windows at 1:29 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.

Mel, could we have a link to the site where you got that map? Please......." hi windows, i am not 100% positive but i THINK that is an intellicast forecast map, when i get a minute i will verify that but i think it is....jo
Posted By: saddlegait at 1:35 PM GMT on September 15, 2006.
groundman - sorry you are not feeling well...hope you get better.

Thanks, Resistant Staph, My husband got it from chain saw cut and being a stubborn man who didn't listen to his EMT 1/2 LPN wife, LOL. I got it, thought it was a return of lyme, he got it, wouldn't listen again, made him sick, I had tooth pulled, got it again. Between the 2 of us we have been on probably 90 days of antibiotics since June!

Sorry so long but PLEASE any cuts that look suspicious for people on the coast especially GO TO THE DR.
I got it in my tooth that was pulled probably because it was still in my system.
We are BETTER now though.
Terry
HELENE winds up to 60mph now from 45mph


thats right 50kt or 60mph and a 1000mbs
1573. Zaphod
Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

Zap
Thank you so much Jo....I'm still in the very early learning stages, and that map is perfect.
1577. hazmat
Zap...what about "D"...all of the above.
1578. 4Dtv
I have love bugs in my folgers!
FLAKEY I STAY IN BIG PINE ABOUT 3 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. WHEN I WAS THERE COUPLE MONTHS AGO, THERE WAS STILL LOT OF DEBRIS FROM WILMA AROUND. I USUALLY STAY AT WOODEN BRIDGE FISH CAMP WHEN I GO. GOOD FISHING THERE :)
LOL OOPS I STAY THERE 3 WEEK OF THE YEAR

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

I'd have to say (c)lack of measurement data. And associated with that would be the lack of understanding the error associated with the data we do have!
1582. hazmat
Kiss...you have definitely stared at the sun too long as well as someone obviously put crack in your Folders this a.m.
1583. Patrap
windows27 the map can be found atWSicorp..wsi.com
Posted By: floridafisherman at 9:53 AM EDT on September 15, 2006.

LOL OOPS I STAY THERE 3 WEEK OF THE YEAR


Depending on where you go, you can still find WILMA debris. There are still abandoned cars that were flooded.... you can still spot abandoned boats in the shallows of the gulf side... Our Key West office building lost its roof during the storm, and we JUST NOW moved our sales staff back in there THIS WEEK, almost 11 months later.
Posted By: Zaphod at 8:50 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?


My answer is yes.

Obviously, our lack of understanding is the leading cause. The lack of measurement data is tied to the lack of understanding issue in that sometimes you don't enough to even ask the right questions. The lack of computational horsepower is more speculative in that if we better understood and had all the necessary data associated with that understanding, then a lack of computer horsepower may very well be the end result.

Good morning all. It's been a while and hope all is well.
Thanks Pat.....Groovy
Geez! Insert "know" between "don't" and "enough" in prior post.
Good Morning swla.....not to be confused with SWLA.
new post for dr masters
1590. Patrap
..drum roll please...
Posted By: 4Dtv at 8:52 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

I have love bugs in my folgers!


I can understand that. We have those pesky little buggers everywhere this fall. All windshields are splattered. They are horrible this time around and I can't wait for first good cold front to drive them back.
1592. Patrap
.Love bug tip for SUV drivers esp..a lil baby oil on the front end after waxing..will keep the Bug clean-up..75% ezier....next time
This car care trip, brought to you by:

HEAD ON... Apply directly to the forehead.
Posted By: Zaphod at 8:50 AM CDT on September 15, 2006.

Weather question for the day:

Is the quality of the models limited by (a) our understanding, (b) computational horsepower, or (c) lack of measurement data?

We evidently don't know enough about what data is relvant or perhaps where to place it. a, b, and c would all be correct. It wouldn't be the computational horsepower but the actual program that ran the model, we are plugging in irrelevant or just plain redundant info in somewhere and not plugging good info in. Perhaps the model program has an unseen flaw of some sort. This could perhaps be caused in part by lack of measurment data or perhaps once again not knowing what data is relevant, ie say we need to get the wind speed of a wave BEFORE it leaves Africa and plug that in as a bigger determining factor in intensity than the water temp 500 miles out, I KNOW that is wrong but just an example. Or a flap of a butterflies wing in GA turns the hurricane?? I know I'm silly.
Maybe we will never figure it out because there are too many variables in Mother Nature, I do believe we will get closer with the models but I can't see them always being right.
Now I am going to nap for real, boo hiss all ya want. LOL
Terry
I agree with Groundman!!!